Migration and integration through education and participation
More than before, priority should be given to the issues of participation and integration on the part of migrants and non-EU nationals, whose rates of unemployment are on average twice that of EU nationals. Integration and immigration policy should occupy a central place in the debate on the future of the welfare state, something we have failed to acknowledge in the past. In our ethnically and culturally diversified ageing societies, the welfare state faces the major challenge of ensuring that immigrants and their children do not fall behind. Specific efforts in education, training, and labour market integration should be aimed at migrants and their children in order to narrow the gaps between them and the rest of society. The positive impact of migration and better integration should be reconsidered. Perhaps Europe should work on more selective immigration policies to ensure a high influx of skilled and professional workers. Also the children of immigrants are a great reservoir of talent (Elchardus, 2009). The overriding imperative is in the face of demographic ageing and in the light of a declining workforce, nobody can be left inactive (for long)! This surely includes migrants.